What are your thoughts about euthanasia?
She is too young. They always are, but this one stays with me for some reason. Perhaps it is because she and I are so close in age. I see what life still burns behind her chestnut eyes and I know that I should feel the same fire in me. I am the one who will live on, after all, but death follows in my wake.
“You’re much prettier than I expected,” she says, beaming from ear to ear. “I didn’t know reapers could look so human.”
I let her words roll over me. I’ve heard the human comment in some form dozens of times before, but the one about my apparent beauty nearly catches me off guard. Most people are terrified of me, even though they call on me specifically for my particular… talents. She has no fear in her whatsoever.
“I can’t speak for others like me,” I say, “but I promise you, I am human.”
Her eyes widen in wonder. “Are there others like you?”
“Well, none that I’ve met,” I admit. If there were others, it was better that we were separated. It wouldn’t seem safe for normal people otherwise. I clear my throat and try to direct the conversation back to business. “Before we begin, I need your confirmation that you are prepared to see this through. I will only ask you one more time after this.”
She nodded. The tubes snaking their way from her nose to the tank at her side quivered with the motion. She would not be needing them much longer. “This is my will,” she said.
“No one is forcing you to do this?”
“This is my will,” she repeated.
I nod. “Very well. Please spend some time with your loved ones. When you are ready, you know how to reach me. If you are still firm in your decision, at that time we will make the final arrangements.”
Those are my conditions for my services. I will not sell my talent to anyone who does not take their life, and its end, seriously. That includes considering the lives that will be greatest effected by the loss. If my clients will not make peace with those closest to them, I will not help them.
She calls me two days later. “You have spoken to your family?”
“I have,” she says. “Of course they don’t want me to go through with this, but they won’t interfere with my decision.”
“You are certain this is what you want?” I have to be convinced.
She laughs. “I’ve fought this long enough. I’m tired of fighting, and it’s only going to get worse from here on.”
From what I remember of her file, the disease had been with her most of her life. Treatments had worked when she was younger, but all they did was delay the inevitable. It was entering the final stage. She would be in excruciating pain until she died. Unless she died before the pain began.
Technically, this is not legal. This is why I require my clients to be one hundred percent convicted to their chosen path. I will not intentionally take a life that is unwilling or unprepared. If I sense any wavering, the contract is voided and they never hear from me again.
It’s not that I’m afraid of being caught. My methods are undetectable. It’s a moral issue. Death is my business, but it’s also my curse. I have chosen to use it to help people, but if those people are less than sure and I kill them, I’m no better than all the murderers in all the prisons across the world.
That night I go to her house. She is calm as she leads me to her room. Some people are nervous. They are afraid of pain, but that is why they have called me in the first place. They do not want to suffer, but they still fear their own end, especially when they can see the clock winding down.
“So how does this work?” she asks me as she settles into her bed.
“You go to sleep,” I answer.
Her lips turn down in a pout. “That’s it?” I nod. “Well that seems a bit anticlimactic,” she sighs.
I know what it is she expects. The secret to my continued business. I remove the glove from my right hand and show my palm to her. There’s nothing unique about it. “I’ve been called many things during my life. Demon. Monster. Shinigami. Ankou. Grim Reaper.” I close my fist and extend my index finger to the ceiling. “The reason being, anything I touch, dies instantly.”
Her eyes light up with awe. “Like a grisly Midas touch!”
I put my glove back on. “Yeah, I guess.”
“Man, that’s so cool.” She yawned. “I wonder if there are other people like you.” I shrug. “I hope there are. Someone you can share your experiences with. I hope the day comes when you aren’t alone anymore.”
I sit in silence as her breathing slows. I never really thought of myself as lonely before. I take her hand in mine and feel the life still flowing through her veins. I bring her fingers to my lips and her spirit vanishes. Her sleeping face still has a small smile. No one had ever smiled at me before. Suddenly I think I understand what it means to be lonely.
Notes: When I was double checking myself on the definition of euthanasia, I was struck with this story idea about an angel of death character helping ease terminally ill and elderly hospice patients to the next life. Then I thought “what if they have a deathtouch ability?” and started looking up different spirits of death to give my character a name. In the end I didn’t actually go with any of them, thought I mentioned a handful in the MCs memories.
This one has a lot more potential but I am growing way too sleepy to focus on it any more tonight. I’m pleased it even turned out this well for a garbage first draft though. I hope these last two posts will hold you over to next week. They’re gonna have to! I’m off the blog for the next few days. I’ll return Sunday with a new list of prompts for you! Have a great weekend!
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